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Sep. 13, 2013

Bycicles for Children

Here at Lunarpages, we advocate supporting local non-profits to better our community. In this case, we are proud to support Bicycles for Children, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to providing impoverished children in the Corona, Norco, and Eastvale areas with brand new bicycles. The program coordinator is John White, a sixth grade teacher in Corona, CA.

The non-profit was founded in July 2012, with three goals in mind: to provide bicycles to disadvantaged children, provide junior high and high school students with opportunities to volunteer in the community, and help at-risk children gain a deeper connection to their teacher and school.

In its first year 196 children received bicycles and helmets. The goal for this year is to raise enough funds for 300 children to receive bicycles.

We were fortunate enough to be able to spend some time with Mr. White recently to get to know him and his organization better.

How long have you been hosting with Lunarpages?
Bicycles for Children signed up with Lunarpages in November 2012. So we have been part of the family for 3 ½ months now.

What do you like most about the services at Lunarpages?
Being somewhat of a technology novice, I was initially quite nervous about setting up a website. The website template I chose was very easy to understand, manipulate, and upload on my own. In just under an hour I had a fully functioning website up and running. I remember having this euphoric feeling of, “I have gone from being an every-day web user to being part of something so much bigger!”

Would you recommend Lunarpages to family, friends, and colleagues? Why or why not?
Over the last few months, I have shared my positive experience and my pride in the Bicycles for Children website to everyone who would listen. I have also encouraged all of them to check out the Bicycles for Children website and to think about setting up a site with Lunarpages when they get the chance.

What do you feel sets Lunarpages apart from other web hosting companies?
I love how important I am made to feel by the staff at Lunarpages. During start up I had a few questions on two different occasions and the tech support staff was awesome. They knew what they were doing and how to help me with my questions. Best of all, they didn’t make me feel stupid for not knowing how to do the tasks myself. Since the initial start-up, my communication with Lunarpages has been via email and those experiences are quite positive as well. I feel like a valued and important client.

What made you want to start “Bicycles for Children?”
The idea started three years ago when I purchased a bicycle for my daughter at Christmas. While picking out the bicycle, I began to think about children who might not have bicycled and wouldn’t be getting one because of financial hardships which were beyond their control. As an elementary level teacher, I am always thinking about ways to reach children. The thought of impoverished children not getting the opportunity to experience a “childhood driver’s license” lingered with me for a 1 ½ years. Then, a college class I took tasked me with creating something tangible that would be able to show quantifiable results. I thought, “Why work on another type of assessment plan when I can go big and find a way to give bicycles to impoverished children in the Corona area?” I shared my idea with several friends, classmates, and colleagues, and everyone loved the idea. That encouragement gave me the strength to create the Bicycles for Children program.

How does it make you feel to see the smiles on the bicycles recipients?
The results from the first year in this program were amazing and beyond my wildest dreams! We started out with a goal of donating 155 brand new bicycles and ended up donating 196. Along the way we found several fantastic partners. The YMCA handled the banking duties and is the collection point for all donations. The Huffy Bicycle Company provided bicycles at cost and IEHP donated helmets to all of the bicycle recipients. Lunarpages provided us with a great way to get internet exposure and Custom Printing and Imaging provided us with a special logo, banners, business cards, and t-shirts to market our program.

When I started the program, I had three goals in mind: donate 155 bicycles to impoverished children, give high school students an opportunity to fulfill their community service volunteerism hours, and create an enhanced connection between the school and home for the bicycle recipients. I preferred to stay in the background as I wanted teachers and school administrators to deliver the bicycles to the recipients by Christmas day. I knew students would immediately develop a bond to school staff who gave them such an incredible and unexpected Christmas present.

High school students were provided numerous opportunities to volunteer as we held car washes, set up tables at community events, held a fundraising dinner, and then assembled bicycles on December 17th. The initial expectation was that it would take volunteers two days to assemble 196 bicycles. Although I expected to have a couple dozen teenagers building bicycles, I was absolutely blown away when 70+ members of the community showed up to assemble bicycles too. There were teenagers teamed with teenagers, mothers with daughters, granddads with grandkids, dads with sons, and dads with daughters. It was an awesome sight to behold. My 69 year old father even flew in from South Dakota to participate. All those people volunteering their time to benefit children they didn’t know was so exhilarating. “Absolutely Amazing” are the words that come to mind when I reflect back on that day. Almost more impressive, 196 bicycles were built in 5 hours, not two days!

Although I asked for schools to take responsibility for picking up and delivering bicycles, a few children came to the assembly site to collect their bicycles. I was fortunate enough to get to watch a few faces “light up” when they realized that the bicycle was really theirs. One touching moment that I often reflect back on occurred when I helped a mother of 5 elementary aged children load five bicycles into her truck. As we finished tying the bicycles down, she turned to me to thank me and began to cry instead. It took five minutes to calm her down before she was able to tell me that she was so financially strapped that she wouldn’t be able to purchase any presents for Christmas. She told me that because of the Bicycles for Children Program, her kids would be getting two presents each; the bicycle and the helmet. That moment put into perspective just how blessed I am, and how difficult life is for others.

How well the home and school bond was enhanced for the bicycles recipients is yet to be realized. But the stories and pictures I received from teachers and administrators have me quite hopeful that we have established a great program. Time will tell if the special bond between teacher and student will lead to a more positive future for the recipient. I even heard of two situations in which teachers went to homes to deliver a bicycle and then found there were more children than expected. The teachers went out and purchased an extra bicycle for the other child. One story related to me by a teacher involved a 9 year old boy who lives in a foster home. The foster home is the 6th placement in his short life. It turns out that from the very 1st day he received the bicycle, he was on it for hours on end every day until his Christmas vacation was over. The teacher asked him why he rode so much and why he liked his bicycle so much. His response, “The bicycle is mine and I get to keep it no matter where I have to live.” That statement, from such an innocent young boy cut me to the core and still brings tears to my eyes when I think about it.

The Bicycles for Children Program gives all of us a chance to make this world a better place for those less fortunate. This year we will be donating to the schools again, and also reaching out to the Boys and Girls Club and local churches who work with at-risk children. Everyone who helps the Bicycles for Children Program is a volunteer, so 100% of all tax deductible donations are used to purchase bicycles.

Lunarpages feels that this organization is a wonderful asset to our community and we encourage those who are able to make a financial donation to do so. As Mr. White said, “This is the perfect opportunity to make this a better world for a child to live in. How often can you lay your head on your pillow knowing that you have positively changed the life of a child you have never met? Now, every time you see a child on a bicycle, you will wonder if you made that possible!” If you would like to volunteer, you could participate in assembling bicycles, help at carwashes, run tables at community events, fundraise, and/or contact possible donors.

Would you like to help this wonderful organization but don’t have a lot of free time? You can send a tax-deductible donation to:

Corona-Norco Family YMCA
Attention: Rocio Magana
1331 River Rd.
Corona, CA 92880

Or contact them:
John White, Program Coordinator
jwhite@bicycleforchildren.org or jwhite@cnusd.k12.ca.us
(951) 378-4635

More information on donations and volunteering may be found here: bicyclesforchildren.org

 

 

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